Wednesday evening, during service, we sang a song called, “I Love to Tell the Story.” (You can find the lyrics and tune here: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/l/ilttts.htm)
In the song there is a stanza that reads, “I love to tell the story for some have never heard…” and when we sang that on Wednesday night, it occurred to me that one of those individuals was singing this with us.
This school year, I have an exchange student from China living in my home. I knew before she arrived (thanks to the paperwork) that she never attends religious services and does not claim any form of religion in her home country. Knowing a little about the history of religion and that country, I was also fairly certain that she has never been exposed to Christianity or the Bible, and verified with her when she arrived that this was true.
To clarify for those who are reading this, it is not my intent to proselytize or to convert her or to convince her to change. She’s here to experience the culture, and part of that culture (at least in my home) is church attendance. And, yes, before she arrived and before she was ever placed in my home by the exchange student program, she agreed to attend. My role in this experience is to answer questions she has and provide explanations surrounding my beliefs and customs, where appropriate. Yes, as a Christian, I would love to see her come to believe, but if she does, it will be (has to be) by her own choice, not coerced or forced or ‘strongly persuaded’ by me, or anyone affiliated with my church, or any Christian, for that matter. (And, honestly, isn’t that true for any conversion that happens? The job of a Christian is to make the gospel attractive and desirable, not to shove it down people’s throats.)
It poses an interesting question, though. As American Christians, we have a tendency to assume that most people we come in contact with have some level of familiarity with the Bible and what Christianity is about. We know how to talk to people who have a rudimentary understanding of Christianity and the Bible, because they know some of the “lingo”. With someone who has NEVER been exposed to it, where do you even start?
As I think through this, I would like to (if I can get my act together to do it), post a series of my thoughts on explaining Christianity. This is primarily for my own benefit, because I need to think through it and know how to approach it should questions arise. We tell people the gospel isn’t complicated, so, in theory, this should be simple, right?
Think about it, and provide some feedback, please. Have you ever had the opportunity to explain the gospel / Christianity / church customs, traditions, doctrine, etc. to someone who has NEVER been exposed to any of it? Not just to your specific tradition / denomination / church, but to Christianity in general?